The Medics – The Saltwater Freshwater Festival

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Brisbane based band The Medics will be honouring their heritage by playing at what they describe as a special and significant Festival. The Saltwater Freshwater Festival will be held in Taree on Australia Day, January 26. We caught up with the young band to find out more about them.

For those of us who haven’t’ heard of The Medics before, please tell us who makes up the band members?

My name is Karl Wallace, and I am the lead singer in The Medics; then there is Charles Thomas on bass, Andrew Thompson on guitar and Jhindu Lawrie on drums – he is my cousin.

The Medics have been formed for about four years, is that correct?

Yes, just coming up to 5 years now.

How did you all get together?

We started the band in high school, in Year 12. We basically just started jamming together and at that time there were five band members, as we had a keyboard player. It was only two years into being the band and she had other commitments, so we ended up just being a four piece – the four guys – and we just went from there on. We really enjoyed playing music together and spending time together – we are all really good friends who love to hang out and talk about music. We just love playing new music and travelling and seeing new places around Australia.

Does the band have a particular style or genre?

I don’t believe we are a set genre – we mix things up a fair bit. I don’t really believe in labelling bands, or giving them a category. It’s like, “Oh, what kind of band is this?”, or label them Indie Rock band or a Blues Rock band. Today music is so different, and it’s hard to categorise music these days … everyone wants to have labels on things. You know, I feel as if we are the kind of band who can be a bit of a chameleon in a way … that we are hard to label, and we like that aspect of being really different. The way we write our music is always changing, and we’re always looking to make things interesting – not just for ourselves, but the people we play our music for.

You’ve had inspiration from The Coloured Stones Rock band. What is the relationship there – is he your uncle?

Yeah, Bunna Lawrie – he’s my uncle and Jhindu’s (our drummer’s) father, and he has been a pretty big part of our inspiration to be musicians. We grew up listening to his music and his stories and the way he puts himself out there as a musician, and learning about how his band and he have shaped Aboriginal music to get indigenous music heard in the mainstream music scene.

Both The Coloured Stones and your band, The Medics, will be appearing as the musical acts for the SaltWater Freshwater Festival in Taree on Australia Day. Is this the first time you guys have appeared at a festival together?

Technically yes. We played with Uncle Bunna at the National Indigenous Music Awards in Darwin –  he played a couple of songs with us there – so this will be the first time playing at an actual Indigenous festival. And especially to have it on Australia Day holds a big significance and is a special thing, you know, as a lot of people forget what Australia Day means and what it actually is to the Indigenous communities. It may not be one of the best days of the year, but we can come together as Indigenous artists and musicians and really showcase what Australia Day should be about, and that’s celebrating the Indigenous community in the way it has coped with the things from the past.

Are those stories or feelings there transposed into some of your song lyrics?
You could say so. It might not be so obvious in our lyrics, but as a band and a young up and coming band in Australian music, we want to really showcase who we are. We are not ashamed of that and we know who we are  – it’s a matter of getting ourselves heard and our ideas and feelings heard in our music and putting it out there.

Speaking of being young and up and coming, you guys have managed to pick up a few large gigs this year …
Yeah, we have. We played Splendour in the Grass this year; that was a huge achievement for us, you know, a little band from Cairns, coming down to Brisbane – starting off fairly small and making our way up. You know, we’re still working our way up. It’s a never ending thing – you can never really say that you have made it. You just have to focus on your songs, and you just have to keep working hard.

It was just recently announced that we will be on the Big Day Out tour; that’s another huge achievement for us and really, it’s a childhood dream to be playing among so many bands and international bands. Playing alongside childhood heroes like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers is a huge thing for us.

You put out your first album this year too?

Yeah, we put out the album Foundations this year, and we did a national tour to support it and played all over Australia, which was another big thing to tick off the list for us. It was amazing to see so many different places in Australia. There is so much to see here and culture and music … you know, people forget how much Australia has to offer in the music industry and the place itself.

It sounds like 2012 has been a great year for you. How has that helped inspire you for next year with your goals?

We are just taking it pretty easy. We don’t have super massive goals or anything; we just take it as it comes. We have a great manager who helps us keep things together. We are just focusing on writing new music material for next year. We’re hoping to release another album, so we are busy writing for that and just doing significant and special shows such as Saltwater Freshwater Festival; it’s a special day, and we really wanted to make sure we played our gig, as we are playing Big Day Out as well.

I heard you are flying in from one gig (Big Day Out) to the next in Taree the same day? 

Yeah. We keep our promises. We wanted to make sure we played at the Festival, ‘cause it is so special and we really want to be there.

Thanks Karl.

This article can be found in issue 86 of Greater Port Macquarie Focus

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